The Palm Beach Post has decided to actually do what so many people in journalism have only been willing to talk about. But with the exception of a few blog posts including one from Erica Smith of graphicdesignr.net fame, that news has largely gone ignored.
Just about a week ago, Managing Editor Bill Rose announced in a memo, “it’s time to change.” Rose went on to make a compelling argument:
“For too long, we’ve stuck with a structure that was designed to serve a print newspaper. We’ve sort of grafted the Internet onto that and it’s worked, but not nearly well enough. Especially in this time of economic uncertainty, we cannot continue to do things the same way we’ve done them for decades upon decades. The Internet now represents a significant and growing source of revenue at a time when our revenue is not what it used to be. For us to make the Web an afterthought would be pretty foolhardy.”
Highlights of what they are doing include:
- Metro now called the Breaking News Department.
- Reporters and editors in the former metro department first priority will be to file all breaking news to the Web as soon as possible.
- A print editor will supervise production of the Local section and the preparation of print stories for the newspaper.
- Most Metro editors and reporters will be working much earlier shifts, while several other editors and reporters will work even later shifts to handle print stories.
- A new Enterprise Department will be created, whose primary responsibility is serving the print newspaper. The enterprise team will produce a steady diet of investigative, enterprise and trend stories. It will also produce well-written “reads” or feature stories. Its stories should be aimed at Page One.
- Continue to hire more people into the Digital Department (Online), from inside — and outside — the building and will focus on not only beefing up and improving the daily production of our site but will increase focus on developing new products and other niche ideas.
- Business and Sports and Features will create Web pods within their own departments.The
Features pod will initially consist of two producers for Accent and A&E.
- Studying the feasibility of a universal copy desk.
- Ultimately, begin to merge our print and online production operations. Traditional way of “putting out the newspaper” will eventually give way to a 24/7 production desk for the entire newsroom. Editors would simultaneously produce print and Web products.
I definitely think the Post’s efforts should be applauded and encouraged by everyone in the newspaper industry. We need more newsroom leaders who are willing to take the steps that Rose and his team are undertaking. And I think that in the coming weeks and months we all should take advantage of the opportunity to learn from their decisions. For today, I wanted to bring their ideas and approaches to your attention and hopefully get you thinking about this I approach, I know I am.